North to Krakow, a thunderstorm

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June 22nd 2013
Published: June 27th 2013
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We had a very comfortable night at Modry Dom,the name of our overnight accommodation in Spisskie Bystre and we wished we had booked another night at least so we could spend time exploring the area which included many walking trails.However,this was not to be and Poland calls.

There was an option of a straight run north to Krakow through Poprad on the R67 to the border and then the R49 in Poland.

This wasn't for us though as the atlas had a scenic road marked further west into Poland and so we chose that route even though it was going to add another hour or so to the drive.

As in Hungary we had to avoid the D1 motorway as we didn't buy a vignette for Slovakia for our one day stay in the country.There didn't seem much point in buying a week long vignette for just one day or a few hours of motoring.And in any case there was an alternative road that ran parallel with the motorway that would suit us.

With the great kitchen facilities we should have purchased some bacon for breakfast because we had all the utensils and pans we needed to cook up a traditional style bacon and eggs.The hardest thing though has been trying to decipher what it is on the packaging to decide if the content is bacon or something else and we have been fooled before.

The day started out partly cloudy and the heat of the last week or so has reduced which is actually a change we think we will enjoy for a while.

We took a rural road away from the apartment and were soon in a forested area with tall but thin pine type trees.We guess when you consider that the growing season here is probably 6 months at best it is little wonder that the trees aren't particularly thick in the trunk.

Being a Saturday the locals were out on their bikes and with the road relatively narrow it was a matter of some careful overtaking to avoid knocking them off as we have found that weekend cyclists in Europe think that they own the road and riding 2 and 3 abreast is not uncommon.

As we turned from our westerly direction to that more northerly we noticed that dark clouds were building up over the Tatras(mountain range) and as we were stopped for our boot lunch we could hear thunder in the distance getting ever closer by the time we were back in the car.It wasn't too long afterwards and light rain started to fall as we drove on the scenic road and crossed the border into Poland.As at the Hungarian border crossing we had to avoid some very large potholes as we weaved through the chicane used to previously slow traffic down as they made the border crossing.We have come to the conclusion that at these old border crossings that neither country wants to take responsibility for the road surface in 'no mans land'.

Our Slovakian host Pieter had told us how Slovakians travelled across the border to Poland to buy goods as in comparison to prices in their home country they were 10 to 15% lower in Poland and that seemed to be reflected in the traffic on the Polish side of the border.As he said there is not much anyone can do to make people spend their money in their own country with the way the Eurozone is set up.Even different currencies doesn't make any difference with numerous 'kantors'or moneychangers on the Polish side ready to change your Euro for a Zloty with no commission paid.

The land ahead had now levelled out to rolling countryside again and we made steady progress until the rain started to come down a lot heavier slowing the traffic with a fair amount of surface water.The temperature was still in the high 20's despite the rain and it was odd seeing people dressed for a warm summers day in shorts and t shirts walking in the rain rather than taking shelter.

Then the lightening started!At first it was just flashes that we could see ahead of us and then as we travelled under a bridge there was ahuge crack of lightening followed almost instantaneously by an almighty crash of thunder leaving Gretchen who was driving thinking that the bridge had been hit by a missile and was going to collapse.It was loud enough to wake me from my short doze as a passenger.

It didn't look like our arrival into Krakow was going to be a dry one and sure enough there was steady rain as we drove through the city and out to the western suburbs where our accommodation was.Our instructions were to travel down one side of a divided road and then do a u turn as the apartment was off to the right.We did this and couldn't find the street where it should have been amongst a maze of businesses so we parked outside another hotel(one we could have stayed at and SO easy to find)and got out to walk just as the rain came on even heavier.

It only took a few minutes to find the sign for the hotel and a skinny little street with the entrance partly hidden from the main road.Of course we couldn't simply exit the hotel car park as it was one way traffic and we had to the 'circuit'again remembering where the street was.

There are times in your life when you know you have made a wrong decision,get a brief chance to change it and then find out you were too late!Today was one of those for us.

After a few nights of dodgy excuses for beds that have been little better than a bed base with little more than a thin 'mattress'(if you could call them that)we needed something better and here we had a chance as our hostess showed us two rooms,one of which had a bed that actually responded to a bounce on it with the posterior.In our haste we went with the larger room with a/c that sounded like a jet engine but we decided would be better than nothing in the humid condition.

As the owner didn't live on the premises she left and was getting into the car when we realised our mistake and Gretchen tore down the three flights of stairs and out of the front door to see the owner's car turning the corner and away! Too late we were consigned to another couple of nights sleep on a dodgy bed.

Tonight being the shortest night we had been told by our hostess that there would be music in the city square and a fireworks display at the river at 10pm.We were buggered after a long drive but there is only one shortest night of the year and here we were in Krakow with a festival happening so we needed to be part of it despite our tiredness.

We had the details for the bus to the city and how to buy tickets and with the rain now cleared and a lovely warm clear evening we set off at just before 8pm.

The downtown area of the city, especially in and around the largest medieval town square in Europe,was alive with people and even though there were thousands of people out and about there was still a huge amount of room for more.

We joined people from many nations strolling around watching the street performers and musicians although we never did find the concert nor the fireworks for that matter.However it all didn't matter as we sat in a couple of chairs at a coffee house on the edge of the square facing outwards for an hour having coffee and just watching the people.We didn't intend to spend and hour and it doesn't take that long to drink a cup of coffee but they are so damn slow in bringing the bill in most places in Europe and we had nothing else to do.In the end I did go inside and paid the bill!

Getting home on the bus was as easy as getting into the city and we fell into bed not in the least bit concerned at the possibility of the 'murderous'night of sleep ahead of us.


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